1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
To understand the nature of divine love in Jesus, who was sent with love to save and serve humanity.
This week we continue to explore the new purpose that Jesus lived for and invites humanity to enter into. Motivated by infinite love, Jesus came into the world first to save, and then to bring others with him into the mission of God. As we have seen over the past few weeks, Jesus’ purpose runs counter to the tide of the culture he lived in and to our modern culture as well. Over the next three weeks, we will explore the 13th chapter of John. In this chapter, the book of John transitions in two ways: the pace slows and Jesus’ ministry transitions from the public sphere to the private. Thus we gain an intimate look at the motivations and priorities of Jesus through his words and actions with his twelve chosen disciples in the last hours of his life. This week, these five verses picture what Jesus lovingly did for us. As the incarnate Son of God, he came into the world from heaven, stripped himself of all glory, and humbly served us. The scene sets up the master washing his disciples’ feet as a metaphor of Jesus’ mission of love. Just as he emptied himself of his glory and became human in order to save us, so Jesus takes the form of a humble servant and washes feet.
Goal for this section: To understand the character and purpose of divine love.
This passage describes the deep love of Jesus for his disciples. What characteristics of Jesus’ love stand out to you? What aspects do you have questions about?
To grasp the depth of the metaphor between the foot washing and the incarnation that is being drawn through this scene, compare John 13:1-5 with Philippians 2:6-9. How do these two passages relate to one another?
6 Who [Christ Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.
Goal for this section: To see how Jesus embodies divine love
Jesus had lofty claims of connection to God and at the same time he served in a very lowly manner. What did Jesus know about himself that enabled him to live out his purpose—to love, serve and save (vv. 1, 3)?
Jesus was sent to earth with love and loved until the end. In contrast, Judas betrayed Jesus and many others forsook him. What are the implications for us? How does the source of one’s identity impact the ability to love and to live for a higher purpose?
Goal for this section: To understand the source of love from God to all who believe
Only when Jesus’ love captivates us does its power expel all other loves and transform us from the inside out. Consider the following quote:
It is only… when admitted into the number of God’s children, through faith in Jesus Christ, that the spirit of adoption is poured out on us — it is then that the heart, brought under the mastery of one great and predominant affection, is delivered from the tyranny of its former desires, and the only way that deliverance is possible. Thus… it is not enough… to hold out to the world the mirror of its own imperfections. It is not enough to speak to the conscience… Rather, try every legitimate method of finding access to your hearts for the love of Him who is greater than the world. —Thomas Chalmers